Americans No Longer Feel Exceptional
November 21, 2011 by Sam Rolley
The majority of American citizens seemingly no longer believe that theirs is the best Nation in the world, a recent Pew Research Center poll indicates.
The American-Western European Values Gap poll, which addressed a number of domestic policy questions, asked people in the United States, Germany, Spain, Britain and France whether they agree or disagree with the following statement: Our people are not perfect but our culture is superior to others.
In a blow to the idea of American Exceptionalism, people in the United States are less likely than ever to feel cultural superiority. Only about 49 percent of those polled agreed with the statement as compared to 55 percent in 2007 and 60 percent in 2002. Individuals in the other countries all agreed to the statement more than 50 percent of the time; the French were most likely to feel superior with 73 percent agreement.
Belief in cultural superiority fell across age, gender and education groups in the United States, though conservatives and older Americans are far more likely to retain the concept.
The idea of American Exceptionalism can be traced back to 1831 when a French writer named Alexis de Tocqueville wrote of Americans’ exceptional circumstances and attitudes and suggested that all democratic nations be held up to the example of America in his book Democracy in America. The concept has since been credited as the catalyst behind many of the country’s finest hours of development by historians.